Ambitious Kung Fu Girl (HK 1981)

Rating: *
Review Date: 10/24/00
Cast: Michelle Mie, Chen Kwan Tai, Yuen Tak

Stupid and needlessly convoluted. A young girl (Michelle Mie) is the spoiled daughter of a very rich man. She's conceited and fancies herself a master swordswoman, but unknown to her, her father pays people to lose to her in fights (similar to Yuen Biao in "The Prodigal Son" (1982) ). His rationale is that she'd be even more of a menace if she knew real kung fu. She also constantly daydreams about a handsome and famous swordsman named Chin Ho (Chen Kwan Tai). One day, she and her handmaiden decide to dress up as boys and sneak out of the house on a romantic adventure (?), but the naive girls are conned and swindled by everyone they meet and are sold to a brothel before they know it. The brothel is run by a nasty transvestite (!), and as Michelle is trying to get away, she realizes in horror that her kung fu is no good. But wait! A rogue with a silver eye-patch breaks into the room just in time to save her. As a reward, he demands that she marry him and she flees in disgust, only to later end up ensnared in a clever trap. Meanwhile, Michelle's father and her fiancé (Yuen Tak) are looking for her and have posted a huge reward for her safe return. This invites other devious players into the mix, including a very high ranking courtesan. When Yuen Tak rescues Michelle from Eyepatch, the courtesan tries to seduce and kill him, but Michelle interferes out of jealousy. The scheming courtesan then decides to introduce Michelle to her idol, Chin Ho, and we find out what an arrogant and scandalous jerk he really is. But that doesn't deter our young heroine from throwing herself at his feet time and time again. After Chin Ho loses a considerable amount of money gambling, the courtesan pays his debts off and he in turn sells Michelle to the courtesan's boss, who is... the guy with the silver eye-patch! Then we discover that Chin Ho is actually an undercover detective who has been working on a case concerning kidnapped girls who have been sold to brothels, which all points back to Eyepatch and the courtesan. A big swordfight goes down, and Chin Ho is in for a big surprise when he rips off Eyepatch's face which turns out to be a mask concealing the face of his greatest rival! What the hell?!? Yuen Tak fakes his death long enough for Michelle to grieve over him and confess her love to him, and then the happy couple gets together to presumably live happily ever after. (unfortunately, her handmaiden was brainwashed to become one of the courtesan's attendants)

Whew, what an ordeal. There's some good kung fu here and there courtesy of nimble Yuen Tak and Chen Kwan Tai, but it's not enough to keep the film interesting. Michelle Mie is cute as a button, but is helpless and weak. And when she's not giggling, screaming, and swooning like a schoolgirl, she's pouting or loudly complaining about something. It's unfortunate, because there was a really exciting spark of female bonding at the beginning of the film that was abandoned way too quickly. Her one little kung fu fight at the beginning of the film was also rather amusing, but that angle was also abandoned and she never did learn how to really fight. Sadly, this film is not worth the effort.